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War of the Roses as big day looms

RIVAL Rose of Tralee contestants Niamh Sherlock and Laura Mitchell are gearing up to go head-to-head twice this weekend.

Gorgeous Dublin Rose Niamh told the Herald that as a massive GAA fan she'll be backing the Boys in Blue all the way on Sunday, while Cork native Laura will be supporting her fellow Rebels.

The girls have been exchanging in pre-match banter over the past week, even doing a photocall together in Croke Park.

But Niamh (27), whose late mother is from Gardiner Street in the north inner city, said that their friendship will go out the window for a few hours on match day.

"They've actually had to separate us on the tour bus," she joked.

"I can't wait for the game. I hope we'll get the chance to watch the match down in Tralee but if we don't I'll make sure I have my portable radio on me to listen in. I really believe Dublin are going to do it; it's our year. I have great faith in the lads and I'm sending out positive vibes.

"Dublin have a lot of great leaders on their team but they also have that mix of new blood, which will be great because there will be that bit of extra passion among the players at the beginning of their career.

"I know we're the underdogs but this is the year for the underdogs.

"It would be amazing to have a double Dublin victory in just a few days but to be honest I'm more focused on the match than on the Rose of Tralee on Tuesday just to keep my nerves in check."

Both girls will be decked out in their county colours on Sunday in support of their teams. Niamh will be wearing a navy ensemble to attend a scheduled mass in Tralee, while Rochestown drama teacher Laura (27) plans to don a red and white polka-dot dress.

"We're great for supporting our own in Cork, she said. "I'm not as sporty as Niamh but I'm definitely backing the Rebels.

"We've had great banter all week and it's been great fun but I hope Cork will win. We're better known for hurling but after we got knocked out by Kilkenny hopefully the footballers will be able to redeem things for us.

"Support from Cork people is always very overwhelming and I'm sure there will be a big number of supporters going up. I'm wearing a red dress when we arrive in Tralee on Friday morning and then I'll wear a red and white polka-dot one to mass on the Sunday in honour of Cork.

"There'll be no bad blood between me and Niamh if Cork wins and we'll absolutely stay in touch. All 32 girls are genuinely getting on great and we're all loving every moment."